Scheme Against National Intellect — Shahnawaz Farooqi

[English translation: Mariam Zahid Khawaja]

The newspaper that you’re holding in your hands, what do you think it is? Is it just a newspaper? Not really, it’s not just a newspaper. It’s a complete universe. What do you reckon about the TV screen in front of you? Do you think it’s just a screen? Absolutely not, it’s a whole world. Newspaper is a cosmos, TV is world. What does it actually mean? It means that if it isn’t so, then it should be.

It’s imperative for a person to take “balanced diet” to thrive. A balanced diet means that it must contain all the vital ingredients that a human body needs. You must have noticed that the scarcity of nutritious elements in individuals leads to various ailments. The same rule applies for mental and spiritual diet as well.

The importance of news is that each bit of information plays its role in shaping the philosophy/concept of life and the perspective of a person. Therefore, if one says that a newspaper should be the whole universe, it means that it should inform as well as present analyses regarding every aspect of life.

If a newspaper is the whole universe, and it either doesn’t mention the sun, the moon and the stars or discusses them slightly, it would result in the shrinking of this universe and there will be a time when you will be left with virtually no sun, moon or stars. The stream of some limited ideas eventually becomes our point of view and resonates with our habits; and who’s unaware of the fact that habits die hard.

Chain smokers know well that it is injurious to their health, and they want to give up on it, but are unable to. There are people yet, who’re addicted to tea and paan and can’t abandon them, let alone smoking. If someone’s habitual of taking tea at 5pm and doesn’t get it on time, he’ll start feeling a headache. News, information, knowledge, analysis and understanding create a “habit” in the same fashion.

An esteemed supreme court judge said in his remarks that the country is facing a wheat crisis too, but instead of discussing that, everyone’s concerned about the constitutional crisis. It’s obvious that the honourable judge is pointing toward political parties and media. If it’s not contempt of court, I’d say that in our country, flour and the Constitution aren’t much different. Flour keeps people running while constitution runs the country. Flour is required to remain alive, and constitution, to give meaning to life. However, what the honourable judge has said is true in its own right.

The priorities in our politics and journalism have, without a doubt, changed. These changes have modified an individual’s universe. Whatever is left of this ‘universe’, is what gets discussed nowadays; however, shallow or partial it might be. But what’s not present in that ‘universe’ won’t be considered important, even if it is an extremely profound, significant and normative matter.

If we look at it closely, we can conclude that most of the information given by our newspapers and television is constrained to just three main sections: Politics, Sports and Entertainment. Moreover, the level of dialogue on these topics, in general, is poor and mostly speculative in nature.

Just have look at our politics and the topics related to it in media. These topics have really narrowed our horizon of interest. The standard of discussion on these topics narrows it further. The question here is, are the media and their spokespersons helping in the evolution of the nation’s mindset or are they hampering it? Are they leading humans or stooges?

In a way, this is a universal problem. The issues of grave concern are slowly moving out of the picture in the US and Europe as well, and a comprehensive outlook of life is getting slipped away.

Even in India, where journalism has had its roots for one-and-a-half century, people are complaining that the sphere of the contents of mass media has contracted and its standard is declining.

The societies where rate of literacy is high, legacy of knowledge is consistent and system of education is stable, won’t be troubled by this situation. But the literacy rate in Pakistan is below 40% even today, while our system of education has less of education and more of “system”, and even the system is corrupt. So if our press becomes irresponsible and does not pay attention to the ‘complete universe’, it may result in a catastrophe pretty soon, the seeds of which have already been sown.

A practice of allopathy is that the “package insert” of a medicine tells both uses and side effects of that drug, so that the patient knows that he’s not only taking the medicine but it’s side effects as well. Following the same principle for media, we might face a strange scenario:

(1) Uses of the write-up: The benefit of reading this article is that it will be a good pastime.
Probable Adverse Reactions of the write-up: (a) psychological one eyedness (b) sentimental tales (c) hearing loss (d) obstinacy

(2) Uses of the article: This article may help you in getting linguistic pleasure.

Probable Adverse Reactions of the write-up: (a) emotional strabismus (disorder) (b) scholarly itchiness (c) spiritual dehydration (d) diarrhea of imbalance

One can go on talking on this. Some people take these things as a joke but each word that’s spoken or written has its impact and forms a mindset.

The late Dr. Ajmal was one of Pakistan’s distinguished psychotherapists. In his letter to Muhammad Hassan Askari he told him that he’s working on patients who developed their neurosis due to misinterpretation of a couplet or a piece of writing.

But, this is a problem caused by wrong understanding of a right thing. However, in our day and age, the situation has worsened a lot and our intellectual canvas has almost completely distorted.

Our cosmos is fleetingly losing its sun, moon and stars. It’s waterfalls and meadows are going extinct. Deserts and oceans are becoming mere words or images. If these circumstances prevail, the day is not far off when you will say: “Sun!”, and your listener will utter: “You’re day dreaming!”. You’ll say: “Sky!”, and your addressee will reply: “We don’t believe in fairy tales!”.

Whatever is happening, is apparently occurring naturally. The question still arises that if it mustn’t be called a conspiracy against national intellect, what else should it be called? It’s a plot that’s there but it’s not. The norm is that anything exists if you but acknowledge it.

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